“It’s the most demanding drumming I’ve ever done,” says drummer Ryland Steen of his current gig in the Orange County–based ska-punk act Reel Big Fish. “It’s so much fun to be able to just go off and have it be okay and appropriate for the music.” And Steen is well aware of what’s appropriate in a variety of musical situations. After all, since the Nebraska native moved to Southern California seven years ago, he’s had the opportunity to perform with a number of acts, including Maroon 5 and Audiovent. He’s also filled in for Phantom Planet, recorded for the band Start Trouble, and worked on various sessions with producer and Mars Volta keyboardist Ikey Owens.
But after years of bouncing from gig to gig, Steen seems to have found a home in Reel Big Fish. Still, life in the group can be demanding. Steen is typically on the road with the band for six to eight months a year, and he recently tracked twenty songs for the band’s forthcoming studio album. Still he tries to squeeze in a little extra playing time whenever possible. “As long as it doesn’t conflict with the Reel Big Fish schedule,” the drummer says, “they’re all about me playing with as many people as I can.”